Dealing with Hypertrichosis
Hypertrichosis is a condition which causes an excessive growth of terminal hair, usually in areas where hair does not normally grow.
Hypertrichosis is often confused with hirsutism, an entirely different condition.
In Hirsutism, excessive thick and dark hair growth is experienced by females in areas typically reserved for males, such as the face, chest, lower abdomen, inner thighs and back.
In Hypertrichosis, excessive hair growth may occur over the entire body, or, it may appear as isolated patches.
Sometimes, Hypertrichosis is congenital, i.e. hereditary, but, acquired Hypertrichosis, may appear any time during a person's lifetime.
Congenital Hypertrichosis, the result of a genetic defect that causes abnormal hair growth, is a one-in-a-billion event. In fact, this condition is so rare that there have been only approximately 50 verifiable cases since the Middle Ages.
A fetus in the womb is normally covered by a fine layer of uncolored hair called lanugo. The lanugo usually falls off after the eighth month of development and it is replaced by a layer of vellus, body hair, and the "terminal" or scalp hair.
In the rare cases of Congenital Hypertrichosis, the lanugo hair experiences abnormal hair growth, continues to grow, and remains after birth and, in fact, throughout the patient's lifetime.
A variation of this condition is called Congenital Hypertrichosis Terminalis. In this instance, the lanugo hair becomes colored, or pigmented, remaining on the body after birth.
People who have this condition of abnormal hair growth resemble werewolves or ape-men. A young man in Mexico, Jesús "Chuy" Aceves, known as the Wolfman, his sister, and his daughter are recently documented as having the condition.
Another variation of Congenital Hypertrichosis is called Naevoid Hypertrichosis. In this instance there is usually just one area on the body where the excessive hair is found.
This condition is not always completely congenital and has also been known to occur after birth.
This form of Hypertrichosis can occur at any time after birth. Symptoms may include the presence of unpigmented vellus hair or it may manifest itself as pigmented terminal hair. In either instance, the excess hair may cover the entire body, or it could be localized in one area, such as the eyebrows.
What causes Hypertrichosis?
No one is quite sure of the causes. The only explanations so far simply state that it is a genetic disorder which is either inherited, or results from the spontaneous mutation of genes.
There are known instances where acquired Hypertrichosis Lanuginosa is found in people who are later diagnosed with cancer. Indications of a cancer-related hypertrichosis usually appears as a fine growth of hair which is normally confined to the face, nose, and eyelids.
Researchers also think that Hypertrichosis may be caused by certain metabolic disorders and by drugs such as oral phenytoin and ciclosporin.
As with hirsutism, almost any standard hair removal treatment or technique is gong to be an acceptable choice. These hair removal methods include:
Presently, no medications exist which can be prescribed so, if you suffer from Hypertrichosis, find a hair removal product, or technique, and remove the unwanted patches yourself.
- Shaving the affected areas regularly to remove the hair and to avoid stubble.
- Using a Depilatory, or hair removal cream, after testing your skin's reaction by applying a small dab to the inside of your wrist and waiting for at least 24 hours to see if you have an allergic skin reaction.
- Bleaching products to make hair less obvious. As with depilatories, you could experience a reaction, so apply a small amount as a test and wait 24 hours.
Electrolysis treatments which use small charges of electricity to kill the hair follicles, or laser hair removal treatment which uses a laser beam to kill the follicles. Both of these treatments are expensive and should be only administered by trained professionals. Known side effects may include rash, skin discoloration, and scaring. Home electrolysis kits are generally ineffective.